Tea Party darling Thomas Massie on Tuesday won the Republican nomination to run for an open congressional seat in Kentucky's 4th District.
The relative newcomer to politics, a protege of U.S. Sen. Rand Paul, beat two well-established Republicans in state Rep. Alecia Webb-Edgington and Boone County Judge-Executive Gary Moore.
With 99 percent of precincts reporting, Massie had 45 percent of the vote, to Webb-Edgington's 29 percent. Moore had 15 percent.
The race proved that the Tea Party movement remains strong in Kentucky. Paul endorsed Massie and was actively involved in the race, even appearing in a TV ad.
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"Some people want to make this race about the Tea Party," Massie said after securing the victory. "Good campaigns and good government are about building coalitions. This is a coalition of the Tea Party, the liberty movement and grassroots Ronald Reagan Republicans. And we have one thing in common: We want less government, not more."
Republican strategist Mike Karem of Louisville said Massie's decisive victory sends a strong signal to Kentucky's GOP establishment.
"The Tea Party is, in fact, a force to be reckoned with," Karem said.
The Republican nominee in the 4th District would be the overwhelming favorite to win the November general election. The congressional seat has been held by the GOP since 1967, except for a six-year stint between 1999 and 2005 when Democrat Ken Lucas served.
With the presidential contest wrapped up at the top of the ballot, Kentucky's most high-profile race was the one involving Massie, Moore and Webb-Edgington, three of seven Republicans wanting to replace retiring U.S. Rep. Geoff Davis.
That race drew attention and funds of outside political groups, including Texas-based Liberty For All, which invested $541,000 in TV advertising to push for Massie's election.
Voter Donna Ingrahm of Bellevue in Campbell County, said "it bothers me" that outside groups funneled money into what should be a local race. "That race should be funded by the people from the district, not Texas or someplace else," Ingrahm said.
The other GOP candidates — Crestwood teacher Brian Oerther, Fort Mitchell business consultant Tom Wurtz, Erlanger lawyer Marc Carey and Crestwood building contractor Walt Schumm — reported raising little or no money for their campaigns.
On the Democratic side, Williamstown attorney Bill Adkins topped former Army medic Greg Frank by roughly 2-to-1 for the nomination.